By Vicki Lear
Targeting jewfish is a challenge and you might have to go quite a few times to nut out the basics in your own estuary system. If I can give you just one tip, it is that to time your tides, fishing in the right time of the tide is crucial and certainly most productive if you want to be successful.
In my experience jewfish will bite best on either the slack of the tide and or the start of the run in or end of a run out. Get to know your river. The time of the tide change will differ from the mouth of the river to the top of the river. So get in the habit to start timing when the tide has stopped in your particular location so you can work out your best times to fish.
As you are heading either up or down your river system, the environment you are starting to look for is deep holes adjoining sand banks or “flats” and or structure such as bridge pylons. Bait is a vital key. The jewfish are not going to be there if there is no bait to eat.
I like to use a rod around 7 feet long. Something like the TD Black Macka 701MFS or similar weight TD Hyper rod matched with a 2500 or 3000 reel, spooled with 8-10lb J-Braid and 12-14lb J-Thread fluoro leader.
Once you have selected your tools, now is the time for the lure choice. We have caught school jew on 3" plastics and light jigheads but the larger fish have come on 100-120mm sized lures. Depending on your depths and current flow in the river system this will vary your jig head size, you want to ensure you are reaching the bottom and are able to retrieve that lure through the water column. Soft vibes and blades are also productive lures for jewfish. When it comes to soft plastic choice the 3.2", 4.2" and 6.2" Bait Junkie Minnows are excellent choices.
Mix up your retrieves. Most of our successful hits from jew come from a double lift of the lure and then as the lure pauses and starts to sink the jew will nail it. If this particular method is not working then mix it up, try one slow lift and sink or a constant roll. It will depend on the mood of the fish and what will trigger the strike.
Once you have hooked up, good luck. Jewfish will normally do some good runs with some amazing head thumping action. It is the best, feeling those head thumps through your rod knowing you have the fish of the day on. Fight it using a smooth action and letting your rod do the work. Be patient as a Jew will eventually burn off all of its steam and tire. Then before you know it, it is laying beside the boat waiting for the net.
Handle with care. If you are planning on releasing your fish you need to handle your fish correctly. Lift it gently into the boat. If you have a fishing partner with you make sure they are ready with the camera. These fish tire quickly so put it back in the water regularly whilst taking photos. Support your fish when holding up under the belly, don’t grab it by the jaw and hang it. When releasing your jewfish hold your fish in the water until it is ready to kick off. If it is struggling you may have to swim it to get the water flowing back through its gills.
Don’t be disappointed if it takes a little while to get your first jew. Believe me it will take practice and time on the water. But once you do land your first jew on a plastic you will be hooked for life.